Toomevara v Adare Match Report

Lively Adare ambush Toome

Adare 1-11 Toomevar 0-10

By Diarmuid O’Flynn

FOURTH time of asking since winning their first Limerick senior hurling title in 2001, but Adare are finally in a Munster senior hurling final, and it was done the hard way.

Adare were comfortable at the break, 1-8 to 0-3, their midfield-reinforced defence again doing a suffocation job on yet another high-profile attack.

For Toome, only two stood out in this period, centre-back Benny Dunne and captain Michael Bevans fighting a very lonely cause up front.
Otherwise, it was all Adare.

After the break Toomevara were a different proposition. With midfielders Terry and Kenny Dunne coming much more into the game, Joseph McLoughney and Padraig Hackett now offering great support on the wings to Benny Dunne, Francis Devanney doing damage at centre-forward after his swap with Kenny Dunne, Toomevara began to chip away at the Adare lead, and six unanswered points had it back to one score in the 50th minute, 1-9 to 0-9.

In the last 10 minutes of regulation time and the seven minutes of added time, Adare got their second wind, however. "We knew they were going back at us," said a breathless Wayne McNamara. "But the full-back line have been brilliant all year and held them out. We just kept at it, kept at it, kept working, and once you’re doing that you’re halfway there, but we did lose our shape at the start of the second half.

"I’m looking forward to the Munster final now. We’ll take tonight off and get back to work on Tuesday."

Shifted back to centre-back despite a man-of-the-match display in midfield in the county final win over Ahane, McNamara’s display vindicated that tactical decision by manager Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin.

Mark Foley didn’t give Toomevara’s county final star Eoin Brislane a sight of the posts on the wing – typical of Mark, he even outscored the Tippman, stealing forward in the first minute to score Adare’s first point.

They were superb in that opening half, Adare, and so tight was the marking at the back that Michael Bevans and his Toomevara forward teammates may as well have been in handcuffs.

No room on the ball, nowhere to turn without finding at least one Adare defender as Aidan O’Reilly and Conor Fitzgerald both dropped back from midfield crowding the channels.

At the other end there was space galore, and in Diarmuid Sexton (a late call-up), Liam Costello and team captain Donncha Sheehan, Adare had the pace to exploit it. "The plan is to play to your strengths," Donncha said; "We don’t have big men up front, but we have lively forwards. The plan is to get the ball to them in space, let them take it from there."

Take it they did, and though free-taker Fitzgerald did the bulk of the scoring in that opening half, four of his five points from placed balls, all three of that flying full-forward line got on the scoresheet, Sheehan setting up Costello for the goal in the 12th minute.

With the change of ends came the change of fortunes. As Toomevara came thundering into the match, one of those who was struggling was the aforementioned Wayne McNamara

As noted, however, it wasn’t for lack of effort that Adare were now being caught, it was simply that Toomevara are a side of quality, and that quality began to tell. Corner-forward Willie Ryan had a brace of points, as had Kenny Dunne (two frees), with wing-back McLoughney chipping in with a huge free from inside his own 65, Franny Devanney getting his second from play.

A couple of astute switches by Adare included McNamara going to midfield and Mark Foley to centre-back, and finally the bleeding was stemmed. It was a tense final few minutes for the large Adare support in the 2,500 crowd, a couple of skirmishes on and off the ball also, several yellow cards issued, one straight red to Eoin Brislane for a reckless pull across Conor Fitzgerald.

Ultimately Adare got their just desserts, worthy Munster finalists.
Toomevara will surely be cursing themselves for that first-half performance, however – plenty of time since the Tipp county final, they can have no excuses but they were caught cold. Fell to a superior force.

Scorers for Adare: C. Fitzgerald 0-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 65); L. Costello 1-0; D. Sheehan 0-2; D. Sexton 0-2; M. Foley 0-1.

Scorers for Toomevara: K. Dunne 0-3 (all frees); W. Ryan 0-2; F.
Devanney 0-2; J. McLoughney 0-2 (0-1 free, 0-1 65); J. O’Brien 0-1.

TOOMEVARA: J. McGrath; P. McGrath, D. Young, P. Touhy; J. McLoughney, Benny Dunne, P. Hackett; F. Devanney, T. Dunne; E. Brislane, K. Dunne, D. Kennedy; M. Bevans (c), J. O’Brien, W. Ryan.

Subs: J. Boland (Touhy 22); J. Delaney (Kennedy 38); Barry Dunne (Delaney 59). Blood sub: J. Delaney (Ryan 4/5).

ADARE: T. Houlihan; S. O’Connell, JP Healy, S. Lavin; R. Kennedy, M.
Foley, P. Keane; A. O’Rahilly, W. McNamara; M. Noonan, B. Foley, C.
Fitzgerald; A. O’Connell, L. Costello, D. Sheehan (c). Subs: A.
O’Connell (O’Rahilly inj. 43); N. Mulvihill (Noonan inj. 56).

Referee: D. Kirwan (Cork) – good job.

McNamara praises ‘unbelievable’ Adare defence

By Diarmuid O’Flynn

IT was a win forged from an iron will, this Munster senior hurling semi-final, a will personified in Adare’s outstanding full-back trio of Stephen Lavin, JP Healy and Stephen O’Connell.

"Unbelievable," was teammate Wayne McNamara’s summary, "To hold a full-forward line of Toomevara’s calibre, a full-forward line many counties would love to have, to restrict Toomevara to just ten points in total – fantastic."

In the middle of that trio, marking John O’Brien, JP Healy was only too aware, as the clock ticked down, that Adare were desperately defending a three-point lead.

"We knew they had to go for a goal with the last couple of frees, and we knew that if we could hold them out we’d win. If they got the goal he might have played another few minutes of injury time!

"Thank God we held them out, got the win, great result. There’s a huge desire to do well in Munster this year, we’ve let it slip a few times.
Last year for example, we only had a week to get ready for it. This time we had four weeks, we were ready.

"We want to win county titles but at this stage we want to take the next step also, we want to be Munster champions and God willing we’ll still be hurling after Christmas, have a cut off the All-Ireland series. If you’re winning county titles, that’s the stage you want to get to."

That hunger sustained Adare and inspired them to lift themselves off the canvas at a time when Toomevara had them reeling with punch after unanswered punch, six points after the break reducing what had seemed a comfortable lead to just two points.

Stopping that Toomevara train in its tracks took character, courage and a point from their captain, corner-forward Donncha Sheehan.

A dangerous ball was centred by substitute Andrew O’Connell and batted out to the in-rushing Sheehan by full-forward Liam Costello; it should have been a goal, but Donncha’s shot rocketed over the crossbar. No matter, it put Adare back on the right road.

"We hurled well in the first half and that’s hard to maintain," Donncha explains, "They have their period of dominance too, and maybe we sat back a small bit.

But when the pressure really came on, in the last 10 minutes, we started getting it right again, giving our forwards ball they could run on to, good ball.

"It’s about keeping your head under pressure, and that’s what we did. De La Salle now, Waterford champions; we hadn’t looked beyond this game so I don’t know what to expect. The lads will look at the video tomorrow, get the homework done for that, see what comes from it."

‘The lads’ will be led by team manager Ger O’Loughlin, who has done a wonderful job with this Adare side. We had trained very hard since the county final and while none of us underestimated the challenge, I always felt today was going to be Adare’s day," said O’Loughlin.

"They showed tremendous hunger; we have a small squad, a few lads away, but there’s great credit due to all 24 on this panel for the effort they put in, in training and in these games.

"I was hoping we’d built up enough of a lead to hold on. It wasn’t our intention to sit back, defend; we had regrouped and our intention was to attack, repeat what we’d done in the first-half. Realistically though they were always going to come back at us, but in recognising that, we died for a while in that half, we lost our shape. They seemed to have an extra man, it was hard to figure out exactly what was gone wrong. But they were working hard to create that extra man, they had nothing to lose after the break.

"We managed to stem the tide, finally got a point after 24 minutes – a bit of a worry, that it took so long. That settled us again, and we managed to get a few more scores to hang on. But any time you’re playing a side like Toomevara it’s going to be a battle, they’re not going to give you anything easy. We had our homework done, and that will take you a long way.

"We’re there on merit, De La Salle are there on merit – two new teams in the Munster final."

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